Search blog:
Subscribe to blog posts:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I am nowhere near as good at the cello as I would like to be, which gets me down frequently. It's hard to eliminate tension when I'm obsessing over how behind I am.

I did have an interesting masterclass today. I'm piqued by the concept of simultaneously singing what I'm playing. I think it will help with breathing - something I'm pretty good at when I'm acting or singing, but which I neglect terribly when I play an instrument.

It's so odd how nervous I get playing an instrument as opposed to acting. People can't seem to understand how difficult it is for me to play five notes in front of a group of musicians when I can happily spout off lengthy Shakespearean monologues or perform acts of physical goofiness without batting an eyelid. I have several theories as to why this is, but no real clue which of them is correct.

Firstly, I think that classical music is held to a far more exacting standard and judged much more harshly than acting. After all, successful classical musicians are always technically proficient, whereas there are seriously suggestions circulating that Julian McMahon should win an Emmy. People trying to convince me to shed my fear tell me that I'm wrong and audiences don't really notice wrong notes. But I do. When I hear others play, I notice and wince. Maybe the real problem is that I'm an impossibly unfair and unkind judge of classical musicians and I should stop it.

Today I compared "truth" in music and acting. The root of acting involves pretending to be someone other than yourself. Music is always all about you. The thought crossed my mind that acting is akin to lying, whereas music seems far more about vulnerable honesty. You can't blame anything on a character.

And yet, that's not true. When I act, I try to make the emotions real. Actor always end up bringing themselves to a role, and acting can often be an intensely vulnerable experience. So it's not about lying*. I empathize with a character until I really do feel angry or sad or delighted by imagining myself in the character's situation.

Maybe I should just act like I'm a really good cellist when I play. Maybe that would help. I'll pretend to be Sigourney Weaver pretending to be a cellist in Ghostbusters or something.

* The exception to this rule is when I am standing in front of a camera asserting that I am a businessperson who lives in Harrisburg while earning a graduate degree. That really does feel a lot like lying. I know people who appear in advertisements are always actors, and yet it wobbles my moral compass. Watch for me on ABC27 during the morning and evening news for the next eight weeks.

Post a Comment